Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Enhancing ecoSysteM sERvices mApping for poLicy and Decision mAking

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - ESMERALDA (Enhancing ecoSysteM sERvices mApping for poLicy and Decision mAking)

Período documentado: 2018-02-01 hasta 2018-07-31

ESMERALDA aimed at developing guidance and a flexible methodology for Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) to support EU member states in the implementation of the EU Biodiversity (BD) Strategy's Target 2 Action 5. ESMERALDA’s key tasks included network creation, stakeholder engagement, enhancing ecosystem services (ES) mapping and assessment methods across various spatial scales and value domains, work in case studies and support of EU member states (MS) in MAES implementation. The methodology's development was built on existing ES projects and databases (e.g. the MAES Working Group, MESEU, OpenNESS, OPERAs, national studies). ESMERALDA worked along four project strands: i) Networking, ii) Policy, iii) Research and iv) Application. The objective was to provide guidance for integrated ES mapping and assessment that can be used for sustainable decision-making in policy, business, society, practice and science at EU, national and regional levels.

Conclusions of the action

The pan-European ESMERALDA consortium created a detailed cross-disciplinary knowledge base on ES mapping and assessment, its application in the context of MAES in EU countries and has completed comprehensive European case study and methods reviews. Case studies proved to be a very successful way to engage MS stakeholders and to test methods. Contacts with relevant projects and stakeholders across Europe have been mandatory to achieve ESMERALDA's objectives. The regular ESMERALDA workshops in different European regions were used to bring together scientists and stakeholders from EU MS in order to discuss and develop knowledge, methods and cooperation. The organisation of thematic workshops and the project conferences have, however, been resource-intensive. Based on the available funding for CSAs and the large size of the consortium with, in the end, 37 partners, the budget available for personal costs has not always been in accordance with the workload. ESMERALDA profited substantially from contributions made by the project partners (e.g. existing case studies), which have not directly been financed by the project. This dedication to an Action was exceptional and proved the strong interest of EU MS representatives in ESMERALDA.

One of the major outcomes of the project is the easy-to-access online open access interface ESMERALDA MAES Explorer, which allows people to browse through the diverse end products. Amongst those products are project deliverable reports, scientific open access publications, a text book on mapping ES, a glossary for ES mapping and assessment terminology, methods application cards and country as well as case study fact sheets illustrating MAES implementation and applications.
ESMERALDA was organised in four activity phases: 1) Networking and stakeholder involvement, 2) Developing flexible tools for mapping and assessment, 3) Testing of the tools at multiple scales for multiple users, and 4) Guidance and methodologies to provide tailored solutions for policy implementation. All four phases have successfully been implemented during the project. The final phase of ESMERALDA was mainly dedicated to developing guidance and methodologies for tailored solutions for policy implementation of ES mapping and assessment.

Overview of the results and their exploitation and dissemination

Main results include the successful identification of relevant stakeholders across Europe, the creation of stakeholder support groups in all EU MS and the work on ES mapping and assessment methods. At the end, ESMERALDA included 37 partners from all 28 EU member states, Switzerland, Norway and Israel. This increase of ESMERALDA members has facilitated Action 5 support in more EU MS than initially planned. ESMERALDA results include work on identifying and systematising various European ES mapping and assessment methods, conceptual work on the ES classification scheme CICES, the selection of suitable case studies and a very efficient integration and dissemination of project outcomes. Appropriate approaches flexibly link biophysical, socio-cultural and economic methods. Flexibility has been achieved by the creation of a tiered methodology that integrates different approaches. Open access to all ESMERALDA products and the early publication of the 'Mapping Ecosystem Services' textbook, providing guidance and background on how to map ES, have been additional keys for success. The ESMERALDA dissemination team has been very active in promoting and distributing the project outcomes by different means of communication and by using relevant information channels such as the Biodiversity Information System for Europe BISE. ESMERALDA aimed at sharing experience through an active process of dialogue and knowledge co-creation, enabling EU MS stakeholders to achieve Action 5. The strength of the ESMERALDA consortium is in its ability to make solutions for MAES problems available to stakeholders from the beginning of the project because ESMERALDA could build on existing expertise.
"The successful identification and integration of relevant stakeholders in all 28 EU member states, Switzerland, Norway and Israel as well as the work with several EU enlargement countries and EU outermost regions and overseas countries and territories has brought huge progress in the implementation of Action 5. Enlarging the consortium to include all EU MS in one single project is a remarkable achievement in a time where the European project is facing severe difficulties. This network has not only been used during the different phases of ESMERALDA, but will also be available beyond the duration and activity of the project. Together with the development of the 'flexible methodology for ES mapping and assessment', the education of respective experts and stakeholders in related fields and the implementation of the online guidance tool ""ESMERALDA MAES Explorer"" ( ESMERALDA already has significant impact on the implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy and other related European policies, the society, business and science.

Socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far

Based on the feedback from EU member state stakeholders, EC representatives, MAES Working Group and consortium members, ESMERALDA has achieved its objectives. Specific feedback has been collected during ESMERALDA Conferences and from EU MS stakeholders in the second ESMERALDA survey among, which revealed that ESMERALDA has helped EU member states to:
- Bring legitimacy for MAES in EU MS from the outside
- Approach policy-makers, authorities and governments in order to convince them of ES
- Facilitate dialogue about MAES challenges and obstacles for policy uptake
- Show the value of using appropriate methods for assessments
- Involve local authorities and people and improve awareness for MAES
- Raise the prestige of national MAES projects
- Learn and share knowledge
- Show how to conduct ES mapping in conditions where resources are lacking
- Have more precise methodologies and knowing which data and methods to choose
- Support for communication especially with policy sectors
- Strengthen capacity for carrying out MAES activities on both local and national levels
- Present real life examples and case studies including ES success stories